Serbian CSOs and media are demanding a response from the Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) findings. The FATF found that the Directorate investigated 57 organizations, media, and individuals without legal grounds, therefore acting contrary to this international body’s recommendations and standards.
In a clear and strong statement, FATF responded to Serbia’s state oversight powers, which targeted the financing of terrorism to obtain banking information and transactions of CSOs, investigative journalists, media associations working on human rights. The FATF raised concerns of whether the Republic of Serbia breached Recommendation 29 that outlines the role and responsibilities of the financial intelligence units, such as the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism.
Previously in a statement, the human rights experts noted that the unjustified use of the Serbian Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism interferes with the citizens’ freedoms of expression and association and disrupt their right in the conduct of public affairs. The experts called on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and MONEYVAL to ensure that national regulations are adopted in accordance with FATF standards and in accordance with the human rights obligations. They also highlighted Serbian Government to guarantee that the use of anti-terrorism laws will not affect the civil society work and the citizens’ basic human rights. This issue has been also raised in the report on Progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (January-December 2020), which was discussed at the last session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as one of the most important points for assessing Serbia’s progress during 2020.
During last summer, BCSDN member Civic Initiatives , among other Serbian CSOs, called the Government to stop abusing the mechanism for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing by intimidating organizations critically oriented towards Government’s actions. In the statement, they claimed that appropriate procedures were adopted in the framework of fulfilling the obligations of the Republic of Serbia towards the FATF and MONEYVAL, contributing to the global efforts in combating terrorist financing.
BCSDN supports its member Civic Initiatives and the Serbian CSOs against the abuse of the mechanism for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing by intimidating organizations, media and individuals in Serbia.
Following the current circumstances, BCSDN encourages Serbian CSOs to apply for funding provided through the Call for the Ad-hoc grants*.
*BCSDN provides rapid funding to CSOs in the Western Balkans to support CSOs in: addressing immediate challenges to the civic space in their countries, facing pressure to the civic space, incidences of hate speech, hostile attacks to organizations, or trying to react towards the changes of a law that affects their work. Read more about this opportunity here: http://www.balkancsd.net/regional-cs-hub/regional-cs-ad-hoc-support-grants/